Hello everyone. It’s been a month since my last video and now I’d like to share some updates. Soon winter’s coming - we’re starting to feel the cold in the air.
Two weeks ago, we had a really nice Thanksgiving meal on both campuses where students and staff came together for dinner and prepare for the holidays coming up soon.
MSAB had two events happen in regards to sports. First, their track team went to Ohio. They only had a few players, but they competed well and took 4th place which is very nice. And then recently the goalball team went to St. Louis Missouri. They had good competition. They won a few games and all kids really learned a lot and had a great trip.
Over at MSAD, the Academic Bowl, ASL, and oratorical teams went to the Great Plains Schools for the Deaf competition. There they competed and did really well. They had a great time learning, and when they came back, they found out exciting news that they made it to go to the regional competition in Kansas in February. Then our middle school is involved with the Battle of the Books, where they’re reading books and answering questions. That competition is happening this week. Hopefully they’ll win and move onto the national competition in the spring.
Thirdly, just last week we had a nice turnout for a reading fair for our elementary kids. Each student read books and developed their presentations. It was judged and everyone had a really good time. Lastly, MSAD has just started their basketball season. We have an elementary, middle school and high school teams with everyone playing at different levels. We have two big tournaments this year for our varsity girls and boys teams. This weekend, our teams are going to the Neesam Classic basketball tournament in Iowa and then we have the GPSD tournament upcoming in Minnesota, which we are hosting. So keep an eye on our website for information on schedules and events related to the GPSD basketball tournament. We hope to see you all there.
Also, as part of our strategic plan we want to develop relationships with different organizations and agencies to help improve our programs. As part of that work, we want to share updates of what we’re doing. MSAD’s social studies class, led by Megan Frowick Morgan, is working with Hamline University to learn about our judicial system. They’re learning through different activities and we’ll have a mock trial coming up soon. That’ll be a great experience for our kids. Laura Skyquest and Justine Jeter went to the ASL Roundtable Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas. There they were able to meet with different teachers and share curriculum materials and teaching strategies which will be good for our teachers to learn and then bring back to help improve our program.
John Davis, director of the Blind school and Anne Grace Donatucci, director of the Deaf school, went to the Minnesota Rural Education Association conference two weeks ago. There they learned about different programs and services available in the rural parts of Minnesota. At the same time, they learned about programs and support and made connections with teachers and other directors across the state.
Next, Brittany Thomforde and a teacher from the Blind school, named Ann Godwin - they’ve been working with Special Ed Forms which is a company that runs our IEP forms and software. They’ve been working with the company to make improvements for accessibility for blind people. That program, up until now, has not been accessible and so we’re hoping that we can help them, then help our teachers have full access to that program.
Kristy Hegberg, our librarian, has been working with Dakota County librarians to host three special ASL event celebrations. They’ve been happening on Saturdays where families can get information about ASL, literacy and information regarding their deaf child.
Now I’d like to share with you some events that are happening soon. First, we will have an artist in residence who will come to our campus to work with both the Blind school and the Deaf school. The focus will be on story telling. We will have different activities and at the end, will hopefully have a video with sound that will complement the skills of both deaf and blind students.
Here at the Blind school, we just received approval for the Blind School Foundation and asset preservation funds to be combined in order to help us renovate our FACS classroom, which includes home ec, cooking, sewing, that kind of thing. That area will receive an upgrade to become more accessible.
Then over at the MSAD gym, we will have another project coming up this spring. What’s happening is we’re going to be making some improvements in order to make the gym more safe. We’ll have new pads, new bleachers, and a few other changes in order to make our gym more safe and able to be used for staff and students.
We currently have three upcoming board vacancies. For two positions, our board members will be completing their terms in January and the third is a board member who has announced he’ll be retiring coming up in June. So I’d like to tell you about the three vacancies in case you know of anyone who might be interested to apply to be on our board. The first is a representative of the deaf community which could be anyone from the deaf community through work or being deaf themselves - they could apply for that position. The second is a current or retired Special Ed director. That means anyone who has worked as a Special Ed director, whether in Minnesota or outside Minnesota, but you do need to currently reside in Minnesota. The third position is held by our current board chair, Dr. Duncan. He is a retired superintendent and has announced his final retirement after serving 50 years in the field of education. His position is for a retired or current superintendent - again - whether in or out of Minnesota doesn’t matter, but you do need to currently live in Minnesota, so if you yourself or you know of anyone who might be interested, please contact our Executive Assistant Lola Brand, and she can give you more information about the application process. The governor then will make his final appointment decision and we will have an interview process to help make a recommendation to the governor’s office.
Now in the month of December we have our traditional winter events. The Blind school has their winter concert on December 13th at one o’clock and December 14th at 10:30. If you’re interested in coming down to watch our students perform, those are the two dates available. After the performance on December 14th, we’ll have a separate gathering for parents, community members, and alumni who want to give feedback on our World’s Best Workforce report. This is an annual report in regard to our student results, achievements, and planned goals for the next year. This is a place where people can share their thoughts and feedback for us. The following week on December 21st, the Deaf school will host their annual winter performance. That will be at 9:30 in the morning. Prior to that at 8:30, we will have the same opportunity for families, alumni, and community members to share their feedback in regard to our World’s Best Workforce report. After that, they can enjoy the program in the auditorium which will last until about 11:30. That day is also the last day of our semester. The kids will then go home for a two-week break in January to start the second semester.
That concludes our updates for this month. If I don’t see you in person, happy holidays. Stay warm and stay safe.